An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Cavity-nesting Birds Wasting No Time

4-21-17 black-capped chickadee nest building IMG_4765There are roughly 85 species of North American birds that are cavity nesters – birds that excavate nesting holes, use cavities resulting from decay (natural cavities), or use holes created by other species in dead or deteriorating trees.   Many of them get a jump start on open-nesting birds, due to added protection from the elements. Barred owls, titmice, chickadees, wood ducks, woodpeckers, bluebirds, mergansers – many have chosen a nest site and are busy excavating, lining a cavity or laying eggs long before many other species have even returned to their breeding grounds.

The reduced risk of predation a cavity nest experiences is reflected in several ways:  many cavity-nesters have larger clutches of eggs than open-nesting birds and cavity-nesting young also spend a relatively longer period of time in the nest before fledging. When in the woods, keep an eye out for snags (standing dead trees) and stumps, for they provide housing for many cavity-nesting birds.  (Photo: Black-capped Chickadee removing wood chips from the cavity it’s excavating in a rotting stump.)

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5 responses

  1. It’s always so much fun to discover a Chickadee excavating–flying in and turning around to throw mouthfuls of wood out.

    April 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

  2. Jennifer Waite

    What a wonderful picture Mary!

    April 21, 2017 at 11:43 am

  3. Cheron barton

    Good read!!🤗👍🏼

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    April 21, 2017 at 11:54 am

  4. Barry Avery

    A pair of Chickadees are excavating a nest in a dead Birch next tomy driveway at about 2 feet off the ground. They interesting thing they do is pick up some chips in the bill, fly to a branch on a nearby tree and then drop it. My 7 year old Grand Daughter said they did it to not leave any scents right below their nest. What do you think? They also take turn in the cavity. It’s fun to watch them work.

    April 21, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    • I think you have one heck of a smart granddaughter!!!

      April 21, 2017 at 4:07 pm

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